Several English white-ball players are reportedly considering negotiating their release from England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) contracts in order to participate in the inaugural season of Major League Cricket (MLC) in the United States. While players on full central contracts are unlikely to be involved in MLC this year, it has come to light that Jason Roy, who holds an incremental deal with the ECB, intends to terminate his contract to join the league. Reece Topley, Roy’s teammate from Surrey and England, is also contemplating a similar move, pending his recovery from recent shoulder surgery.
Scheduled to take place from July 13 to 30 at the Grand Prairie Stadium in Texas, MLC has gained significant support from India and Australia, with four of the six franchises being backed by owners of Indian Premier League (IPL) teams, while Cricket Victoria and Cricket New South Wales have stakes in the remaining two teams. However, concerns have arisen within English cricket circles regarding potential future clashes between MLC and the Hundred, as the inaugural season of MLC slightly overlaps with the semi-finals and finals of the T20 Blast and two rounds of County Championship fixtures between Finals Day and the start of the Hundred.
Due to these concerns, the ECB will not grant No-Objection Certificates (NOCs) to contracted players, which would allow them to participate in MLC. Although it is unlikely that players on full white-ball contracts would negotiate a release to play in the US, it does make financial sense for those on incremental deals. The incremental contracts provided by the ECB add approximately £66,000 per year to county salaries and are currently held by six players: Harry Brook, Dawid Malan, Matthew Potts, Jason Roy, Reece Topley, and David Willey.
Sources suggest that Surrey expects Jason Roy to participate in MLC, potentially for the LA Knight Riders, during the break between the Blast season and the start of the Hundred. If Surrey reaches Finals Day, Roy would be available for them but would miss the beginning of MLC. Although Roy’s representative declined to comment on his discussions with Kolkata Knight Riders during IPL 2023, it is understood that informal talks regarding the possibility of a contract in other leagues, including MLC, have taken place. Similarly, Topley, who recently underwent shoulder surgery, is also exploring his options for MLC participation based on the progress of his rehabilitation.
The decision to request a release from an incremental contract at this stage of the year would cost players approximately £20,000, as England contracts run from October to September. However, with each MLC franchise having a purse of $1.15 million (£930,000 approx.) to cover their squad, including overseas players, any potential deals would help offset the loss of earnings from leaving an England contract.
In response to these developments, the ECB is in the process of revamping its central contract system for the 2023-24 season to adapt to the growing presence of franchise leagues. The Professional Cricketers’ Association (PCA) confirmed that players seeking NOCs during the season is at the discretion of the employers and will not negatively impact future selection decisions.
MLC has already attracted notable overseas signings, such as Marcus Stoinis, Quinton de Kock, Wanindu Hasaranga, Anrich Nortje, and Glenn Phillips, with Trent Boult and Adam Zampa expected to join them in the coming weeks.